Mrs. United States Katie Garza Encourages Women to Donate Breastmilk: We’re Saving Lives

10/19/2015 at 10:45 AM ET

After prematurely delivering all three of her daughters and having trouble breastfeeding twice, Katie Garza started a nonprofit called Pumping for Preemies. So when it came time to choose a platform for her Mrs. United States campaign, Garza’s choice was obvious.

The former Mrs. Texas competed to raise awareness of the huge necessity of donated breastmilk for prematurely born babies — and in July, she was crowned Mrs. United States.

Garza didn’t learn that donor milk was an option until after unsuccessfully trying to breastfeed her first two daughters, Phoenix, 6, and Gracie, 4. And even though she was finally able to breastfeed her third daughter, 7-month-old Aubrey, Garza was determined to make sure no other mothers had to go through the “heartbreaking” feeling of not being able to provide for their children.

“There’s something that was really life-giving to me a few weeks after having Aubrey,” Garza tells Best for Babes. “Knowing I had extra colostrum and milk that I could do something with, recalling how I wished I could have given it to Phoenix and Gracie when they were in the NICU, knowing I could help other babies that were like my baby — it made me feel like I was putting on a superhero cape!”

Mrs United States Katie Garza pumping for premies
Kyiera Jones Photography

Garza launched Pumping for Preemies when Aubrey was 4 weeks old, and she credits the cause with inspiring her to enter the Mrs. Texas and Mrs. United States pageants.

“After Aubrey was born and I started pumping, I had a conversation with my husband one evening and I told him I wanted to compete at Mrs. Texas to create awareness about donor milk and breastfeeding support,” Garza remembers. “Pumping for Preemies came first — the crown came second.”

Mrs United States Katie Garza pumping for premies
Courtesy Katie Garza

Since Garza launched Pumping for Preemies just five months ago, they’ve already donated 5,200 ounces of milk.

“Whenever I tell moms that three ounces can feed a preemie for an entire day, they’re dumbstruck. They can’t believe they can provide a whole day’s worth of nutrition and medicine for a baby with just one three-ounce bottle,” Garza says. “So that’s a lot of babies’ lives we’re saving.”

To learn more about donor milk and Garza’s hopes for the future of Pumping for Preemies, read her entire interview at Best for Babes.

Mrs United States Katie Garza pumping for premies
Courtesy Katie Garza

— Andrea Park

FILED UNDER: News , Parenting

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CGB on

She is bringing awareness to a great cause.

EJBB2012 on

Just an FYI and head’s up to whomever is reading this article and thinking it’s a wonderful thing….plz be sure to do ur research. I honestly can’t believe this was this woman’s stance while entering and actually winning the Mrs. America contest.

A woman who has just given birth and has extra breastmilk to offer is a WONDERFUL idea. In fact, I was going to donate my breastmilk bc I had a LOT of extra milk. What I came to find out was that by the time the FDA and whomever is involved in making sure a woman’s breastmilk is deemed worthy of donating, all the testing has taken out ALL of the important nutrients a baby needs. Basically rendering the breastmilk less nutritious than powdered milk.

Do some research ladies before u buy into this.

K on

EJBB2012,

I’m not sure where you were “doing research,” but it was, at best, incomplete.

Much of the primary testing is blood testing performed on the woman interested in donating. While yes, some tests are performed on the breast milk itself, a SAMPLE is removed to be tested. Yes, that sample is then depleted, but even if it weren’t, it is no longer hygienic and would be tossed out, anyway. To believe an entire sample is used for testing and then just bottled up and sent on its merry way shows an incredible ignorance of science.

Unfortunately, in today’s anti-academic and “scientists are evil” society, it’s all too common. *Sigh*

sally on

What are these women eating and drinking??? I think you need to monitor what is in the berast milk. Personally, I wouldn’t want my preemie to drink strange breast milk!

Anonymous on

sally- Don’t worry, they test the milk first before feeding it to babies. Anyway, I’m surprised that after having the first two daughters prematurely, her doctors didn’t do everything in their power to pinpoint the cause and prevent the third one from being born early.

Anonymous on

EJBB2012- I see your point, but most preemies’ stomachs are too immature to tolerate formula. Therefore, if mom can’t produce milk (or enough milk) herself, donor milk IS the best option for them!

Another Sally on

So glad People covered this.

I’m curious if Sally who commented also carefully monitors what the thousands of factory-farmed cows in miserable conditions whose milk goes into formula eat. . . . It’s so odd to me that we as a culture think it’s normal to feed a human child the milk of another species but not our own, when our own has evolved to be the proper fit for the child.

As far as the nutrients being taken out of the milk by the pasteurization that donor milk goes through at milk banks, the pasteurization kills some of the protective cells that normally pass through breast milk. But the milk is still nutritious, bioavailable, and appropriate to the human baby’s gut, unlike cow’s milk. The idea that it’s inferior to formula after pasteurization is just, well, wrong.

Tipper on

Thank you for sharing this interview, People! Milk donation is truly a life-saving gift for premature and fragile infants and children, and it is so exiting that Katie Garza chose to highlight this need.

Michelle Hickman on

Human Milk Saves Lives, continue making Texas Proud. #miraclemilk #miraclemilkstroll

duy on

I think this is amazing though have also heard that the milk goes through a process where some of the nutrient value is lost? Not sure how true that it is.

However, I donated mine through a local FB page for milk sharing and connected with a local mom in need, I donated to her daughter for several months and it was an amazing experience 🙂

jodinechase on

This is such important work, critical to to the health and wellbeing of fragile premature babies. Many women who have milk to spare do now know that donating is an option. Thank you for highlighting this life-saving work.

Lou on

There is no medicine in breast milk and once the colostrum stage is done there are no antibodies in breast milk either. There have been many studies done trying to find these elusive antibodies everyone talks about but not one scientific study has EVER identified any. The only thing that has been identified is a decreased incidence of diarrhea in breast fed babies vs formula fed. Personally I would rather give my baby formula rather than bodily fluid from a total stranger! And how is it that she is saving lives of these preemies? Is she shipping the breast milk to areas of the world where people are starving and have no access to a hospital? When my preemie twins were in the NICU they received formula and were never in danger of death from starvation. Also there is no colostrum in breast milk after a few days never mind four weeks!! This woman is full of untrue misleading information and should not be given a platform to speak on something she clearly knows nothing about.

Anonymous on

Haters gonna hate , mothers gonna love